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Updating the beautiful "Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku" to the present day and connecting it to the future. Kiryu-zaiku Basket [Craftsman Interview]

renacnatta has collaborated with various traditional crafts. This winter, a new collection , the Kiryu-zaiku Collection, will be added, highlighting Toyooka kiryuzaiku, which has been handed down in Hyogo Prefecture .

The first item is the Kiryu-zaiku Basket, a basket-shaped bag made from Toyooka kiryu zaiku. Pre-order sales will start on January 30, 2023, and delivery is scheduled from around April.

“Kiriyanagi” means koriyanagi. Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku bags are characterized by their elegant luster and suppleness created by carefully woven koriyanagi . It has been used by the royal family for many years.

Color development is three colors of Nero, Bianco, Cognac from the left.

By combining the leather cover and handle on the upper part of the woven ryuzaiku body, a bag with a unique presence has been completed.

When you think of a basket bag, you imagine it being used in a casual setting, but the elegant appearance of Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku and the addition of high-quality leather make it suitable for formal occasions as well.

Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku has a history of 1,200 years, and although it was known throughout the country for a period of time, it is now in danger of extinction due to a decline in the number of craftsmen.

This Kiryu-zaiku Collection was made possible through an encounter with a craftsman who is trying to pass on tradition to the next generation. This is Kaori Yamamoto, a craftsman of Toyooka Kiryu Zaiku.

Mr. Yamamoto is seeking to create an environment in which craftsmen can continue Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku in good health while improving their own skills. Collaboration with Renac Natta is also a challenge for the future.

We asked Mr. Yamamoto why he was attracted to Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku and what kind of future he is trying to open up with bags.

I decided to work for the rest of my life when I saw Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku for the first time.

Kiryu-zaiku Basket's hometown is Toyooka City, located in the northern part of Hyogo Prefecture. Kaori Yamamoto was born and raised in Toyooka City, and learned about Kiyanagi Zaiku for the first time when she became an adult.

“A friend showed me the bag and told me, ‘This is all handmade by the people of Toyooka. At that moment, I strongly thought, 'This is it! I want to make this my job!' "

Until he learned about Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku, Mr. Yamamoto had tried various genres of work with the desire to "find a job with his hands," but he couldn't decide what he would do for the rest of his life. "In retrospect, I can only say that it was an epiphany," he decided to participate in the successor training class. What pushed me forward was the beauty of the bag.

At any rate, I was moved by the beauty of the knitting. It doesn’t look like it could be made by a machine, but it is so detailed that I thought, ‘Can you make this by hand?’ And it is so light and strong. I was shocked that it was made locally.”

Mr. Yamamoto fell in love at first sight with Toyooka Kiryu Zaiku, which is said to have been produced in Toyooka City and the Tajima area at least 1,200 years ago, as the "Tajima Kiryu Box" is stored in the Shosoin of Todaiji Temple. It has been.

The material is kori willow, which grows naturally in the fertile wetlands of the city. By putting a lot of effort after harvesting, it is possible to bring out the characteristics of toughness and suppleness.

Koriyanagi and Mr. Yamamoto. Grows up to 3m long.

It was during the Edo period that the production of Toyooka Kiyanagi zaiku became established. Generations of feudal lords focused on the production of bags (containers) using Toyooka Kiryana ware, and Toyooka became known as a major production area for bags. It was also used to store clothes due to its high insect-proof and moisture-proof effects.

The ``gori'' (front right) changed its shape to ``gori kaban'' (upper right) in the Meiji era, and then to the ``Taisho basket'' (upper left).

Exports to overseas started in the Meiji era. It has been loved throughout the ages, changing its shape according to needs, such as "Ri Kaban" and "Taisho Basket". However, after the war, production decreased sharply, and so did the number of makers.

The reality that everyday tools used all over the country are disappearing

Mr. Yamamoto jumped into the world of manufacturing with all his might. As you learn more about Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku , you will come across the recent history of craftsmen's efforts to keep tradition alive, and the reality that the technique is about to die out .

In the past, Kiyanagi Zaiku from Toyooka was a part of everyday life, used as lunch boxes and storage boxes at home. The division of labor that enabled mass production was behind the nationwide distribution. It is said that there was a fine division of labor between those who grow the willows, those who process the harvested willows into materials, those who weave the willows, and those who assemble them.

However, after the war, more and more craftsmen went out of business due to the emergence of products using plastic and vinyl. Gradually, it became difficult to obtain materials, and from the generation of Mr. Yamamoto's teacher, craftsmen began to take care of the labor-intensive cultivation of koriyanagi.

You can feel the will to pass on the techniques and traditions of kiryu zaiku. If it hadn’t been for the persistence at this time, Toyooka kiryu zaiku might have been replaced by rattan ware, for which materials can be imported.”

Koriyanagi is the raw material. After peeling off the outer skin and undergoing many processes, we can finally start knitting.

The process of weaving the leashes, which used to be a division of labor, now has to be done by one person. It takes even a skilled craftsman more than a week to weave a large-sized gori. Moreover, it takes 10 years to master this technique.

In this way, compared to the era of mass production, the amount of time and effort that could be spent on a single bag was enormous, and at the same time, it was not possible to completely change the direction of daily necessities to luxury goods. , there is a situation where profit and labor are not balanced.

Today, Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku cannot become a leader unless it continues to manufacture without regard for profit. Mr. Yamamoto has come to feel a sense of crisis about this situation, saying, ``If this continues, it may not last for another 100 years.''

“It is said that wickerwork was made all over Japan in the era when wicker baskets were a necessity. At the same time, I think it's because I put effort into product development and took on the challenge of changing the shape.

And in order to continue Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku from here, I think the time has come to change something again.

Mr. Yamamoto feels that it may be too late, but considering the history of Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku, which has nurtured its technology while changing its shape, he has found a way to convey value and set an appropriate price. We are trying to change the current situation on two axes.

Both suppleness and durability are realized because of the koriyanagi used in kiryu-zaiku. Beauty that is loved over time without being bound by trends. The meaning of continuing to use tools that have been used for a long time from parents to children. Delivering such value to the modern consumer is priced accordingly.

Through these changes, Mr. Yamamoto envisions a future in which Toyooka Kiryusaku will be established as a business and craftsmen will be able to stand on their own feet.

A design that conveys the essential beauty of Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku to the future

Mr. Yamamoto, who struggled while facing these issues, chose to create items with Renacnatta as a challenge.

Renacnatta resonated with Mr. Yamamoto's desire to preserve the Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku, which is about to be lost, for future generations, and the collaboration was realized. I aimed for a bag that can participate in the process of passing on Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku to the future.

At Kiryu-zaiku Basket , we value the creation of items that convey the beauty of Toyooka Kiyanagi zaiku, the setting of reasonable prices that can be considered a job for craftsmen, and the design that is worthy of the price .

Toyooka's kori willow is used as the material. In order to make it easier to feel the beautiful luster that is brought out from the kori willow by the craftsmanship, it is lightly dyed with kori willow skin. It has an elegant presence and is suitable for formal occasions.

Kori willow is used for horizontal weaving that determines the expression of the bag, and rattan is used for its strength in the vertical direction. By combining lightness and durability that can only be achieved by Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku, it is possible to continue using it for a long time.

Furthermore, this time, leather is also used. La Vetta, a leather product manufacturer in Toyooka City who has worked with Renacnatta's sister brand "cravatta by renacnatta" to create items such as business card holders , uses the technology of La Vetta to combine leather with Toyooka ryuzaiku.

In this way, the Kiryu-zaiku Basket was completed as a bag that can only be delivered by Renakunatta. After the collaboration, Mr. Yamamoto gave us this realization.

“Usually I make all of my bags by myself, so I tend to stick to my own ideas and tend to follow a one-pattern pattern. I was surprised.By combining other people's designs and technical skills, my own inspiration changed, and I realized how interesting it is to create something together with someone else."

Mr. Yamamoto said that through the creation of this item, "I think we can evolve Toyooka Jiryu Zaiku's product creation with more various designs."

One way to do this is to learn how to weave kiryu zaiku, which once had a wide variety. Mr. Yamamoto fears that his skills will disappear as he has limited opportunities to learn anything other than how to weave bags. I would also like to challenge myself to create products such as flower baskets and lamp shades that are different from bags.

An interview with Mr. Yamamoto that gave us a glimpse of the industry's long history and the difficulty of facing the challenges. Even so, Mr. Yamamoto spoke powerfully about the future he hopes to envision through Toyooka Kiryu Zaiku. Where do you find the driving force to keep taking on challenges?

“After all, when I saw Toyooka Kiyanagi Zaiku bags for the first time, I was shocked and decided, ‘I want to make this. People say, 'It must be hard,' but I'm jumping in with my determination, so I wonder if I can keep going."

The technology that has been nurtured for 1,200 years and the beauty that made Yamamoto's heart shake so much that he decided his life, we will wear it today and connect it to the future. I sincerely hope that Kiryu-zaiku Basket can be one of those bridges.

<A video showing the process of making Kiyanagi Zaiku is available on YouTube.> Please take a look. >


■ Kaori Yamamoto

Written by Yuriko Kikuchi
Interview and editing: Eri Yoshida

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